Waymo, Alphabet’s self-driving car division, is teaming up with Chinese carmaker Geely to develop an all-electric, self-driving ride-hailing vehicle. Waymo Driver, Waymo’s AV technology, will be integrated into Geely’s Zeekr cars for usage in U.S. markets “in the years to come,” according to the firms.
While Waymo does not provide a particular timeline for when manufacturing will begin or when these vehicles will hit the streets, the alliance indicates that Waymo is adopting a multi-platform strategy to OEM relationships. Waymo’s current ride-hailing fleet in Phoenix, Arizona, is made up of Jaguar I-Paces and Chrysler Pacifica hybrids that provide autonomous trips.
Local delivery services have also added to the company’s cooperation with Stellantis, which owns Fiat Chrysler cars. According to a Waymo representative, Waymo’s intentions with Geely should have no impact on the company’s existing collaborations.
Zeekr, a luxury EV brand founded by Geely in March, debut its first premium model, a stylish crossover, in China last month. The Waymo version, which looks more like a minivan in drawings, is being custom built and engineered in Gothenburg, Sweden. Waymo plans to incorporate its Driver, which comprises hardware like lidar, sensors, and cameras as well as software, into the cars once they arrive in the United States and deploy them inside its ride-hailing fleet, according to the firm.
According to a Waymo blog post, the Zeekr cars were built with “a flat floor for more accessible entrance, simple ingress and egress owing to a B-pillarless design, low step-in height, spacious head and legroom, and fully adjustable seats.” The interior, which will be devoid of a steering wheel or pedals in preparation for a completely autonomous future, will have plenty of head and legroom, reclining chairs, and displays and chargers within easy reach.
Other AV firms, including Cruise and Argo AI, have also announced plans for ride-hailing EVs. Last year, Cruise introduced the Origin, a ridesharing vehicle, and in September, Argo and Volkswagen announced plans for the ID Buzz AD, a jointly developed autonomous van that would be on sale in Hamburg, Germany in 2025 as part of an autonomous ride-pool system.